Every day, massive 18-wheelers rumble through Elk Grove on some of California’s famed freeways. Due to lax safety regulations, hiring standards, and oversight, truck drivers are responsible for a large proportion of all vehicular accidents in Elk Grove. While federal regulators are hard at work on cracking down on a broken trucking industry, Congress, funded by wealthy trucking companies and lobbyists, resists revising laws to provide greater protection to car drivers, passengers, bikers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
Truck accident fatalities are on the rise nationwide. The number of deaths has risen exponentially in the past decade, thanks in large part to Congress’s refusal to honor recommendations to reform the trucking industry. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of truck accident deaths increased by 17%, hitting a high of 3,964 in 2013. Trucks account for less than 10% of vehicles on the road, yet they are involved in over 12% of all fatal crashes (and 25% of all fatal crashes in construction zones).
Car accidents in the Elk Grove region, as well as across the country, have dropped due to technological improvements and stricter safety regulations. However, the same cannot be said for truck accidents. The trucking industry is an incredibly profitable industry. Trucking companies have the resources and funds to pay for expensive and elaborate lobbying campaigns designed to pressure Congress.
In the past year, Congress has focused on passing a highway bill, though it is currently stymied because the House and Senate cannot agree on a final version. The highway bill would cover truck driver requirements and restrictions. Congress has thus far avoided passing a comprehensive highway bill since 2009, instead simply extending the old version of the bill. However, the increase in deaths, coupled with the increase in technological advancements, has forced Congress to respond with a new bill.
The New York Times recently wrote a scathing article of the trucking industry, highlighting comedian Tracy Morgan’s disastrous crash as an example of why reform is so crucial. Morgan and others were traveling through a construction zone at less than 10 MPH in a limo. A truck driver of an 18-wheeler from Walmart was also driving the same route. The driver had been driving for 28 hours at that point with no rest or sleep. Due to the construction zone, the speed limit on the turnpike was reduced, but the truck driver ignored the signs and warnings. Morgan’s limo stopped in traffic, and the truck driver, following behind, was unable to stop in time. Tracy Morgan was severely injured, and others in his limo were killed. An investigation into the crash revealed that the truck driver was exhausted and overworked, leading to the negligent accident.
Technological advancements, to be discussed further in another post on Elk Grove truck accidents, could have helped prevent the tragic accident. For instance, anti-lock brakes, airbags, and electronic stability control come standard in most cars, but the trucking industry has managed to avoid laws requiring installation in trucks. The trucking industry is currently lobbying Congress for longer work weeks and larger trucks in order to decrease freight costs. Congress is considering these requests in its highway bill.
Law Offices of Edward A. Smith
I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove Personal Injury lawyer.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury during a trucking accident in Elk Grove, call me now at (916) 694-0002. If you are outside the Elk Grove area, you can call me at (800) 404-5400 toll-free for fast, friendly advice now.
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